The Fear Index by Robert Harris

81%

30 Critic Reviews

Quite a few Financial Times readers will, I suspect, not only savour The Fear Index, but wince with recognition.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

At the nexus of high finance and sophisticated computer programming, a terrifying future may be unfolding even now.
 
Dr. Alex Hoffmann’s name is carefully guarded from the general public, but within the secretive inner circles of the ultrarich he is a legend. He has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But one morning before dawn, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside mansion, and so begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him.
 
Fiendishly smart and suspenseful, The Fear Index gives us a searing glimpse into an all-too-recognizable world of greed and panic. It is a novel that forces us to confront the question of what it means to be human—and it is Robert Harris’s most spellbinding and audacious novel to date.
 

About Robert Harris

See more books from this Author
Robert Harris is the author of Pompeii, Enigma, and Fatherland. He has been a television correspondent with the BBC and a newspaper columnist for the London Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph. His novels have sold more than ten million copies and been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Berkshire, England, with his wife and four children.
 
Published January 31, 2012 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Fear Index
All: 30 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Excellent
Dec 01 2011

Amid the welter of financial details, Harris creates a novel of tension and suspense by focusing more on the human than on the mechanistic.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Sep 30 2011

. . .a Harris novel offers a range of allusions for different audiences.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Dec 12 2011

Despite some less than engaging characters and a story that sags a bit, this novel’s philosophical underpinnings will keep most readers engrossed.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Schwartz on Mar 02 2012

. . .the author revels in digressions on the operation of financial markets and Darwin’s theory of natural selection. . .Harris has done his homework on both. . .

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jan 26 2012

. . .the later sections of the novel feel increasingly silly and contrived, like excerpts from a bad Michael Crichton novel.

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Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Tom Nolan on Feb 01 2012

The author has a marvelous knack for sketching a scene or evoking a mindset and then drawing the reader in.

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NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Graham Storrs on Jan 31 2012

The Fear Index is a solid, competent techno-thriller, carefully researched and intelligently executed.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Feb 01 2012

Like the best novels of this genre, it offers something to chew on - and it’s entertaining.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle on Feb 23 2012

. . .Run-of-the-mill fisticuffs and explosions come as a letdown after so much ingenious buildup.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Benjamin Evans on Sep 29 2011

Best known for historical novels, this former political journalist proves his range with a techno-thriller that feels as topical as Newsnight.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by John Gapper on Sep 23 2011

Quite a few Financial Times readers will, I suspect, not only savour The Fear Index, but wince with recognition.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by James Endrst on Jan 30 2012

. . .it doesn't take a super-computer to know The Fear Index is a worthwhile investment of your time.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Sep 23 2011

. . .Harris clarifies the science behind the hedge in thoroughly accessible lay readers' terms. . .

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Gerald Bartell on Jan 29 2012

VIXAL-4 will haunt the reader long into the night, making him wonder who or what is driving his stocks.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Duin on Feb 04 2012

On a number of levels, Robert Harris is at the top of his game in "The Fear Index."

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
Reviewed by Anna Mundrow on Feb 08 2012

The result is an oddly triumphant hybrid: an irresistible thriller that is also a disquieting meditation on the nature of man and of man's creations.

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Seattle PI

Below average
Reviewed by Jeruen Dery on May 03 2012

Alexander Hoffmann is a tough main character to sympathize with.

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Salon

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Leonard on Feb 05 2012

Beware taking this book to bed with you, because you will stay up too late.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Christopher Bray on Jan 18 2012

...this is not Harris’s best book. Just before reading The Fear Index I was re-acquainting myself with the novels of Eric Ambler, which seventy years after the political turmoil they evoke and explain still read beautifully. Thematically, Robert Harris is far more zeitgeisty, but as a stylist he is nowhere near Ambler’s league.

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New Statesman

Excellent
Reviewed by Alex Preston on Oct 06 2011

Harris's great skill is to inhabit fully and convincingly the worlds he writes about. . .showing off his vast research yet never allowing the white-knuckle narrative to lose momentum.

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The Spectator

Excellent
Reviewed by Charles Cumming on Oct 01 2011

. . .a slow-burning story of suspense and paranoia with a climax that will delight Harris’s legion of fans.

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Bloomberg

Excellent
Reviewed by Laurie Muchnick on Jan 31 2012

Harris is a master of pacing -- the story moves swiftly while never feeling rushed, and the tension increases subtly chapter by chapter.

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History News Network

Below average
Reviewed by Jim Cullen on Feb 08 2012

It doesn't quite rank as high as Fatherland (1992) or Pompeii (2005) in the Harris canon.

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The Adelaide Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Hainsworth

It grips like a pit-bull and won’t let you go.

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Reuters

Excellent
Reviewed by Felix Salmon on Jan 15 2012

For me, however, the greatest pleasure of this book is that it gets finance right.

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London Evening Standard

Excellent
Reviewed by David Sexton on Sep 15 2011

. . .what makes Harris's thrillers so much more rewarding than those of his rivals is that they all. . .come out of his deep and expert interest in politics, broadly conceived. . .

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LabLit.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Rohn on Mar 11 2012

. . .the ending, though predictable in general, culminates on a particularly interesting note that I doubt most would see coming.

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Reuters

Below average
Reviewed by Chrystia Freeland on Feb 10 2012

The one aspect of "The Fear Index" that is tired and familiar is its depiction of the rise of the machine-to-machine economy as murderous and menacing.

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Investment Europe

Excellent
Reviewed by Madison Marriage on Nov 07 2011

The man v. machine idea is not new, but Harris treats it in a refreshing manner.

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The Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Emmanuel Roman on Sep 17 2011

Harris is a master of pace and entertainment, and The Fear Index is a thoroughly enjoyable book.

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Reader Rating for The Fear Index
68%

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Korin Bampton

Korin Bampton 5 Sep 2013

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